With Spring upon us it is a great time to zest up your dishes while simultaneously protecting your health (not to mention impressing your friends and family).
Below is a list of my top 5 (dry) Spices everyone should have in their spice rack and use as often as possible along with their benefits:
This curry spice has a deep yellow pigment known as curcumin. Curcumin exhibits potent anti-inflammatory effects in circulation when consumed with black pepper (better absorption). When taken without pepper, it exhibits these effects on the digestive system. Curcumin prevents tumor growth, slows cancer progression, and can even prevent metastasis. These properties exist independent of its anti-inflammatory effects. Sprinkle some on your eggs with some pepper in the morning, or throw it on rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, etc.
If not already used in a variety of dishes, cinnamon can be considered an “anti-diabetic” spice. Cinnamon reduces the rate at which sugar is released into circulation, preventing glucose spikes and modulating its use within the cell. Cinnamon can reduce fasting glucose levels and even lower cholesterol levels. Add it to teas, coffee, baked goods, etc.
A Mediterranean spice, offers anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Oregano contains high amounts of Vitamin K and may aid digestion through increased bile flow. It is also known to decrease coughing and respiratory disorders. Add it to fish, chicken, soups, marinades, oils, etc.
Cayenne and other hot pepper contain capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the “hotness”. Capsaicin temporarily raises your body temperature by increasing your metabolism. Not only does this burn more calories and improve fat metabolism but it is highly anti-inflammatory as well. Add it to chili, eggs, soups, meats, etc. (to tolerance)
Another holiday spice, ginger offers anti-inflammatory properties thanks to both gingerol and curcumin (less per weight compared to turmeric). One study found supplementation reduced the occurrence of Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Ginger is also highly effective in reducing nausea and easing gastric distress. Very high consumption is also linked to increased testosterone (upwards of 14g/day). Add it to Asian dishes, citrus dishes, and garlic dishes.